Madden NFL 2001
Review of Madden NFL 2001
The PS2 launch release of Madden NFL 2001 promised many things. Superior graphics, a new game / character physics engine, full analog button control…sure does sound nice, but does the game deliver? You betcha.
As most people would agree, the one place where Madden undeniably always shines is in the area of gameplay and Madden 2K1 is no exception. Gamers are going to be treated to a feature rich menu selection chock full of options. There are so many things in there that I often got lost or found something new in a section that I was surprised to find it in. Get ready to spend some quality navigating time here.
Getting onto the field I was immediately comfortable with the control scheme and handling of the players. Jumping through the playbook menus and picking my plays was very easy. If you get confused, there are little button icons at the bottom of the screen to help you along. There was also an Easy Play option that will help new players out. In this mode, favorite plays (depending on the team being played) are automatically suggested for you. All you have to do is select them and get into the game. This feature can be toggled on or off at any time during the gameplay. Since this mode features a rather limited play selection, it is really only recommended for newbies.
Running the ball was quite realistic and I often found myself punching some nifty holes in the defense for decent gains in yardage. I could immediately see where the new physics engine comes into play here. Characters will now run, cut, stop, tackle, juke, etc. all in a very realistic manner. Gone are the superhuman cuts of the runner. Now inertia comes into play and when changing the route of a runner they will have to slow down and re-foot before changing direction. It looked almost too real. I did find a few plays that yielded some big runner yards but for the most part gamers will be limited to the short gains found in real games.
Passing also has a whole new feel to it. Gamers can now control the speed at which their quarterback delivers the ball. Pressing the analog hard and long elicits a speeding bullet pass while a short tap of the button will get you more of a gentle lob pass. Receiver routes can be easily displayed by pressing the R2 button and there are quite a few signature catches in the game by the pros such as Toomers graceful one hand snags.
The create a player option is really nice but still hampered with restrictions unless you decide to turn off the salary cap then the sky is the limit! There are a ton of configuration options available to the gamer though so customizing your dream players should be a snap.
I really cant say enough good things about the overall gameplay in Madden 2K1. As always, there are a ton of playbooks to pick from and another ton of plays to go with each coaches book. The new analog control scheme is a thing of beauty and allows so much overall flexibility that I cant imagine where the gameplay will take us with the release of 2K2. Everything is so flawlessly executed that the game is a joy to play.
In addition to the normal Exhibition and Season Modes, Madden also comes packed with a full Franchise mode where you can manage your team from cradle to grave. Here you can get involved in luring college players, dealing with contracts, making off-season trades and cuts and learning to compete with the other teams that are out there trying to sign up the #1 player. We normally do not see this short of gameplay depth in a first issue release of a football game for a new console, but EA really went the extra mile to make sure this game came loaded to the gills.
There is also a neat little side event that is always going on as you play a game called the Madden Challenge. As you play through a game you are awarded tokens for meeting specific challenges issued during each game. These challenges include running the ball for more than a 20 or 30-yard gain, gaining over 100 passing yards for a specific receiver…the list goes on and on. You can see all of the challenges at any time by merely pausing the game and clicking on the Madden Challenge line in the menu. Once you have collected a good amount of tokens from your challenges you can then purchase Madden Cards. These cards are placed in a little card collector book that you can review or if you want you can trade the cards to other gamers. Madden Card Collecting is fantastic and for your efforts you get cards that will unlock stuff like stadiums, players and game codes/cheats.
Overall, Madden NFL 2001 really advances the gameplay on the PS2 and pulls no punches. Plain and simple, it delivers a superb football videogame experience. From the opening title to the overall presentation of the game, this one is a winner.
Of course with the advanced processing power of the PS2 we should expect a real jump in the graphics area and once again Madden does not disappoint. Just wait until the first time you get to see the stadiums and then the players in motion. There is also a seamless transition at the end of each play that shifts to a blow-up of the players moving about. You can actually see the emotion displayed on their faces…and their eyes are downright spooky looking.
Even on the sidelines we get fully animated players, coaches and line refs. I cant tell you my initial joy the first time I ran out of bounds and clobbered a ref holding the 10-yard marker. The game is apparently throwing around a few million polygons per second here with nice solid, smooth looking players.
Player movement is smooth as silk with animation that is fluid as liquid mercury. Gameplay sticks at a constant framerate with no slowdown even when things get hectic. There is also a completely awesome replay mode where you have totally control
There are a few things though that can be fixed for next year. The stadiums do contain some flickering due to apparent mip-mapping problems. It isnt too distracting but you will notice it when the camera pans back. There is also some collision detection issues with the players that you can pick up in the slow-motion replay segments. I continually spotted arms and legs of one player passing through the bodies of other players. You will not notice this during normal gameplay though. Also, the crowd is still rather lame looking. It isnt the smeared looked of the PS1 crowds but it does feature stiff cardboard cutout people that really dont move at all.
Truly though, this is a significant jump in graphical presentation on a home console that includes many different player models (different sized players), smooth, highly detailed characters and great backgrounds (stadiums). IT really blows my mind to think that next year things will look even better.
Finally we wrap things up with the sound department. On the plus side the sound effects are indeed effective with the proper PUNCH of a good hit and the grunts and groans of flattened players. There are also nice crowd noises and great background announcement going on like will the driver of the blue van please move, you are blocking another car.
On the minus side, the Madden and Summeral banter is getting a bit long in the tooth. Dont get me wrong, these guys know what they are talking about and the way they come across and execute their comments on most plays is right on the money…they just seems a little flat. I like some excitement and shouting when I score a touchdown or a 60 plus yard bomb and all I got was an unemotional statement that I had scored…ho hum. EA Sports could learn a thing or two from Visual Concepts NFL2K1 in this area for sure.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Madden NFL 2001' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Tom Rooney © Absolute PlayStation
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